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Eye On Candidates
March 13, 2015

A Substantive GOP Candidate Debate?

Sean Parnell

Republican candidates for president in 2016 may face something that hasn’t been seen in a while, an honest-to-goodness debate on substantive issues that goes beyond the routine exchange of canned sound bites and rehearsed ‘zingers.’ At least, that’s what Hugh Hewitt, talk radio host and questioner for the first GOP debate is aiming for:

Hugh Hewitt Wants A 'Serious' GOP Primary And Will Be Assigning Homework

When radio host Hugh Hewitt questions Republican candidates at CNN’s first primary debate this fall, he says, viewers will be “much more likely to hear about the Ohio-class submarine than contraceptives.”

What, you ask at this point, is the Ohio-class submarine?

“The Ohio-class nuclear submarine is the biggest line item debate that will be held in the next 15 years,” Hewitt said in a Wednesday interview with The Huffington Post. “Presidential candidates ought to know about it. They ought to be up to speed on it. That tells me seriousness.”

Hewitt, 59, has carved out a niche in the conservative talk radio world as Mr. Serious, an unapologetic wonk in an industry full of bombast. And he's ridden that reputation to fairly prominent heights lately, becoming perhaps the most important conservative media figure of the still-early 2016 election cycle. Virtually all the prospective candidates have sat down for an interview with Hewitt. And Hewitt, in turn, has set intellectual bars that they must clear. Guests can expect to get into the nitty-gritty of foreign and domestic policy issues -- and they know to come prepared, lest they be embarrassed on air. Often, they leave with homework…

Read the full story if you want to get a sense of what Hewitt plans. Hopefully the other debates in both parties as well as those in the Fall of 2016 will be conducted along similar lines.

That CNN debate will be September 16, by the way.